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"Shoplifters" tells the story of a very unconventional family. // Courtesy of Mongrel Media

Review: Kore-eda Hirokazu’s ‘Shoplifters’

Directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu; Japanese with subtitles; Landmark 9 City Centre; Now playing
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Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu was awarded the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival for Shoplifters (or Manbiki Kazoku) and the film is a Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee. It paints a moving picture of an unconventional family, leads its audience to question the nature of right and wrong, and is visually engaging with a wonderful soundtrack. It is all the things.

The plot centres on Shibata Osamu (Lily Franky) and his family—his wife Noboyu (Ando Sakura), son Shota (Jyo Kairi), sister-in-law Aki (Matsuoka Mayu), and grandmother and family matriarch Hatsue (Kiki Kirin in what would be her final filmatic role). After returning from a shoplifting trip at the grocery store, Osamu and Shota find a little girl (Sasaki Miyu) alone in the cold. They bring her home, and discovering that she is covered in scars, decide to keep her. Throughout the film we see the Shibatas struggle to make ends meet, yet at the same time they seem like a loving, happy family. But the more the story goes on, the more secrets are uncovered.

Franky and Ando deliver great performances and, without wanting to give too much away, it’s a testament to both their acting and Kore-eda’s writing and directing that, by the end of the film, Osamu and Noboyu remain lovable and relatable characters.  

Jyo and Sasaki were also a treat; the scenes where it’s just the two of them—whether they’re playing or sharing grave secrets—feel true to life. Matsuoka and Kiki’s characters also shared a close bond, and overall the entire cast made the Shibatas’ close family bond seem true and authentic.

If you’ve not yet had the chance to see this wonderful film, now is the time.

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